Gin Cocktails | Lady Patricia Mother’s Day cocktail

Lady Pat

I inadvertently got my start in understanding gin from my mother. She’s a herbalist so I learnt about herbs and flowers and flavours from as early as I can remember. I taste the difference between echinacea angustifolia and echinacea purpurea from ten paces, but I also learned about things like liquorice root and angelica and cardamom and juniper. I learned about essential oils and how they are made through distillation. I learned about the volatility of natural oils, how scent profiles, and indeed flavour profiles, are made up of top, middle and base notes. All the techniques I use to critique gin, all learned at my mother’s knee.

So for Mother’s Day I wanted to design a cocktail especially for my mum. She’s quite particular about what she likes. Nothing too sweet and nothing too strong, but she loves flowers. So I started with flowers; lavender and elderflower. Cocktails are about balancing sweet, sour and strong, so sweet if from homemade lavender syrup, and St Germain Elderflower liqueur, the sour from a dash of lemon juice and the strong from (wait for it…) gin!

Lady Pat composite30mL lavender syrup *
15mL St Germain Elderflower liqueur
7.5mL fresh lemon juice
15mL gin, a light flavoured clean gin like Bombay Sapphire will work well
Sparkling mineral water

Combine syrup, liqueur, juice and gin in a tall glass with lots of ice, stir gently. Top up glass with chilled sparkling mineral water. If you, or your mum, have a sweet tooth you can leave out the lemon juice and use a good cloudy lemonade instead of mineral water. Serve with a twist of lemon peel as a garnish, or with a lavender flower if you have one.

Lavender syrup*To make a small batch of lavender syrup combine 50g of sugar with 50mL of boiling water and a handful of dried lavender flowers. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and leave for about five minutes then strain out the lavender flower. Chill before using. The syrup will last for about 2 weeks in the fridge. And I recommend putting it in the fridge straight away for helpful gentleman gin drinkers clean up the kitchen and throw it out.



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Tasting Gin | Blackwoods Dry Vintage Gin 60%

Blackwood's GinSo I stocked up on gins when I was in London last year. The problem is I get really attached to bottles of gin bought overseas, so attached that I don’t want to open them, let alone drink them. I keep them in my gin cupboard, an oak cupboard that belonged to my great great aunt Peggy, and look at them. I take them out and stroke them occasionally, but I’m too awed to drink them.

Then I got a hold of myself and decided there is no point having gin if you don’t drink it and opened my bottle of Blackwoods Gin.
I purchased the Blackwoods from the magical place where I bought most of my duty-free haul, Royal Mile Whiskies in the heart of London. Don’t be fooled by the name, they have an amazing selection of gins. It is also the best compromise ever for the Gentleman Gin Drinker (who should more accurately be called the Gentleman Whisky Drinker) and I. The delightful staff are knowledgable and helpful and even gave me samples of gin at 10.30am; my kind of people.
The Process
Blackwoods Gin is made on Shetland Island and features local botanicals. The bottle I bought was one of the 60% ABV bottles that they do a limited run of each year. 22,000 bottles are made, which is apparently the population of Shetland Island (I cannot confirm if this includes ponies). 60% ABV was not plucked out of the air either, the island sits at 60 degrees latitude. Their gins and vodkas are made in a traditional copper still in small batches using a barley-based spirit. There is nothing about water on their website, but I’d hazard a guess it is from the island too.
The Botanicals
The botanicals in Blackwoods Gin vary from to year to year based on what is growing well on Shetland Island. There is a list of the standard gin botanicals which remain the same for each vintage.

Citrus peel

The rest of the botanicals are listed on the bottle. My bottle is from summer 2007.

Wild water mint
Sea pink
Meadow sweet
Tasting notes
The aroma is junipery and herbaceous, light and clear with clean citrus top notes. On the palate it is very lightly sweet and floral which is offset deliciously with the warm glow of 60% ABV.
In Drinks
Mixed with a good tonic water like Capi the herb notes really come out. With the addition of lemon peel the sweetly floral notes emerge, particularly the elderflower.

Blackwoods stand up extremely well in cocktails, a particularly enjoyed a Hanky Panky, but this is such a good, clean drinking gin that would suggest sticking to martinis (very dry with a twist) or with tonic water.
What Others Say

Gin Journey
The Guardian
Gin Foundry
Where to Buy
Acland Cellars

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Tasting Gin | Four Pillars Gin

Four Pillars launch

Last week I was delighted to get an early taste of Four Pillars Gin at soft launch at Kitchen by Mike. I could tell you about the party, the food,  the delicious cocktails from Trolley’d, the costumes! But I suspect what you really want to know is: how’s the gin?!

Well the gin is gooood. This is not a formal review as a party is not the ideal circumstance for a proper tasting, but I manage to sneak in a neat half shot. It’s spicy and flavoursome, with lovely fruity notes from the inclusion of whole oranges in distilling process.

The first batch sold out on Pozible in about 3 seconds, even I missed it! But I am on the list (towards the top!) for the second batch. Once I have my hands on the bottle I promise a more detailed review, but in the meantime, if you see the distinctive black and copper bottle on your travel, try it!


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Tasting Gin | Martin Miller’s Gin

gin, Martin Millers, bottle‘But hang on!’ the most observant of you say. ‘You already reviewed Martin Miller’s Gin!’

That’s true, but I reviewed the Westbourne Strength, which clocks in at 45.8% ABV, this is the regular strength at 40% ABV. From my extensive research (reading their website…) I have gathered that the two versions are made in much the same way, shipped to Iceland, and then this version just has slightly more of the delicious fjord water mixed with it. If you have any better intel, let me know!

So I won’t go over all the making details again, you can read them here, while I skip ahead to the good part, the drinking.

Tasting Notes

Unsurprisingly this gin has a very similar flavour profile to the Westbourne strength, but for mine it loses something without the big fiery ethanol of the 45.8%. The blow-your-mouth-off freshness isn’t there. However, it is a lovely, delicate, well-balanced gin. The softness of the fjord water remains and gives a very clear flavour profile heavy on juniper with light citrus notes and a little spice at the back of the palate.


The subtlety of this gin does not hold up especially well in tonic water, however if you are looking for a very light, refreshing drink, try it with soda and lemon peel, or a very good tonic water and cucumber. It’s in a martini that this gin really comes into it’s own. Stirred and a little dirty it is just about the most dangerously drinkable martini I can think of. Also works a treat in a Negroni if you’re looking for a lighter base that lets that Campri and vermouth shine.

What others say

Gin Journey
Storied Sips
Gin Time

Disclaimer I was given a bottle of Martin Miller’s Gin for the purpose of this review. While I appreciate the generosity of Martin Miller’s distributors in sending this sample, my appreciation has not affected this review. 

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Gin Quotes | Dorothy Parker

gin martini

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November 13, 2013 · 10:15 am

Tasting Gin | Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength

miller 008If money was no object and you just wanted to make the most wonderful gin possible, what would you do? This was the starting point for Martin Miller’s Gin. And it’s not a bad starting point, if money is no object.

Martin Miller the man came to prominence publishing an etiquette guide called Success with the Fairer Sex. I can only imagine what that was about. He established the Miller Academy, a Victorian style salon, but he got bored with burlesque at about the time in became a major plot point in Gossip Girl. I have sympathy for that. Somewhere along the line his attention turned to gin.

The Process

The neutral spirit is flavoured in a single pot still called Angela. No source is mentioned for the spirit so it is probably a grain spirit. The earthy botanicals are infused overnight in spirit and hot water, while the citrus peels are distilled separately. Now, this is where it gets interesting. The heart cut from the distillation is sent to Iceland at full strength where it is mixed with fjord water. We did say money was no object! The Westbourne strength is mixed to 45.2% ABV.


This is not an exact list, it is put together from various hints across the website.

Orange peel
Lemon peel

Tasting notes

This is not a fragrant or perfumed gin. It is very light on the nose with ethanol and juniper detectible, but otherwise it is indistinct. On the palate it is clean and bright and surprisingly soft for 45.2% ABV. It’s well rounded with juniper, citrus and spice in a very pleasing balance. The most remarkable thing about this gin is how clean fresh it tastes. I can’t help but picture shiny, fresh snowfields and adds for toothpaste when I’m drinking it, and I mean that in a very good way.


In a gin and tonic you need to use a high quality  tonic water (Fever Tree or Capi) as the flavours are so subtle that a cheap and sugary tonic water will completely overpower the gin. It’s a very soft and clean drink, very enjoyable with a cucumber garnish as the creaminess of the cucumber offsets the softness of the gin beautifully. A sliver of lemon peel also works nicely.

In a martini you want to keep it dry and clean, this is not a gin to dirty up with olive brine. A few drops of vermouth if you must, but I’d suggest Churchill style (look at the vermouth as you pour the gin) with a twist.

What others say

The Gin is In
Gin Time
The Gin Blog
The Whisky Exchange
The Drink Shop

Where to buy

Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength is available in Australia, I have bought it from Vintage Cellars but a quick scout of their website doesn’t prove fruitful. Your better independent bottle shop should stock it, or you can buy online from Nicks, free delivery for orders over $200.

Disclaimer after I had prepared this review I was offered a bottle of Martin Miller’s Gin (not Westbourne Strength) to review. While I appreciate the generosity of Martin Miller’s distributors in sending this sample, my appreciation has not effected this review. 


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Tasting Gin | City of London Distillery

City of London Gin bottleFirstly, a confession. Somewhere between my aunt’s house in London and my house in Sydney, my notebook with all my gin notes from my trip to Europe went missing. Hence it’s been months and I still haven’t written up my gin tastings. I’ve finally accepted that the notes are gone for good and I’m going to attempt to recreate them, please forgive me if anything is a bit hazy.

On one of our days in London, the Gentleman Caller and I indulged both our geek out interests. First we headed out to Bletchley Park, where the Engima Code was broken and the first computers were built. This place is like a pilgrimage for the Gentleman Caller, but I really enjoyed it too.

Then we trained back to London and indulged my obsession with a visit to the City of London Distillery. COLD, as it is known, is the first distillery within the City of London in over 200 years. (Sipsmith opened earlier, but they are in Greater London, but not within the square mile of the City of London. It’s complicated.) Just off Fleet St, COLD is home to both the distillery and a lovely contemporary bar serving more than 180 gins.

COLD run daily distillery tours every hour between 12 noon and 3pm for £8. We spent too long at Bletchley Park and arrived too late for a tour, but I got chatting with some of the delightful staff, and Jamie Baxter, the Master Distiller, was still around and gave us a bit of an impromptu tour, which was extremely generous.

The Process

The gleaming copper still is behind glass for everyone to see and enjoy when they visit the bar. She’s a gorgeous creature (I forgot to ask her name!). The woody botanicals go in the belly of the still, but they add the fresh citrus in a basket further up in the pipes.

The base is a grain spirit which is pushed through the still a few times before the botanicals are added, the copper ‘pores’ open up and absorb all the nasty impurities out of the spirit leaving a very clean ethanol.


Coriander seed
Angelica root
Licorice root
Fresh orange
Fresh lemon
Pink grapefruit

Tasting notes

Given the botanicals list it will be no surprise that this is a very citrus forward gin. As we were tasting in a bar I didn’t taste in an exacting way, but it was delicious and dry and flavoursome.


We started off with a gin and tonic, served with a veritable slab of pink grapefruit, I’m not usually a big fan huge citrus wedges in a gin and tonic, but wedges of pink grapefruit seems to be the done thing in London’s finer gin drinking establishments. We followed up with a love dry martini with a twist, here the citrus really shines with lovely background of earthy base notes. Ended the evening with a French 75, again the citrus played beautifully with lemon and champagne.

What others say

The Gin Blog
Master of Malt
Summer Fruit Cup

Where to buy

City of London Distillery Gin is not widely available in Australia. You can import it from Master of Malt or The Whisky Exchange, but as always be aware of the delivery fees.

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